A thrilling game at Anfield saw the visitors answer their critics with a fine win whilst handing the Reds a rare home defeat.
Aston Villa travelled to Anfield with questions being asked about Martin O’Neill’s men who had managed only two wins in their last 18 games and were soundly beaten on their last visit to Liverpool.
Indeed another defeat looked in the offing in the early stages with the home side beginning the game at full throttle and almost snatching the lead within the opening thirty seconds.
A twisting run by Fernando Torres finished with the Spaniard chipping the ball into the box to Yossi Benayoun but the Israeli couldn’t direct his header on target and the ball bounced just wide.
Yet Liverpool continued to roar forwards and with ten minutes on the clock the Villa goal led a charmed life.
Firstly Torres wriggled into the box but slipped, however the ball fell to Steven Gerrard who somehow poked it back to the Spaniard but his shot was blocked.
Yet again the ball came back to Gerrard and he had two chances to score but with bodies flying into the box somehow the ball stayed out and the visitors escaped.
The skipper almost made amends minutes later after picking up a pass from Dirk Kuyt outside the box and attempting a trademark shot first time that whistled over the bar.
Whilst the hosts were clearly on top, Villa were defending with real vigour and looking full of determination and with just over half an hour gone they shocked Anfield into stunned silence.
An Ashley Young free kick was whipped into the box and found the head of Lucas who headed past Pepe Reina to hand the visitors the lead.
The Reds attempted to rouse themselves with Glen Johnson bursting forwards and feeding Torres but his shot was well saved by Brad Friedel.
Anfield expected more but Rafael Benitez’s mere were toiling ensuring Villa had half-chances of their own through Nigel Reo-Coker and Nicky Shorey.
With half-time looming and the Reds looking increasingly frustrated, Villa bagged a second goal in added time at the end of the first half.
A well-flighted corner in by Shorey found Curtis Davies at the near post in between Jamie Carragher and Torres and he headed home to hand Villa a two goal lead at the break.
Rafael Benitez sent his side out early for the second half and the Reds had a great chance to pull a goal back straight from the restart.
Unsurprisingly it was Gerrard picking up a pass from Johnson and turning and stinging Friedel’s fingers inside the box before Javier Mascherano on the follow up struck his shot straight at the American.
Urged on by the crowd and attacking the Kop the Reds piled on the pressure, Kuyt going close with a header which Friedel was forced to tip over before Shorey cleared another header from the Dutchman off the line.
Yet Villa continued to pose problems on the break and within seconds of Kuyt’s chance Villa almost added a third with a sliding Reo-Coker inches away from touching Gabriel's Agbonlahor’s cross past Reina.
At the back Martin O’Neill’s men remained firm as the shots continued to rain in on Friedel’s goal and with 20 minutes to go the pressure finally told.
A burst down the left by Emiliano Insua saw the full back cross to Torres at the far post and he stabbed home on the volley to hand Anfield hope.
Yet their joy was short lived as within minutes of the goal Gerrard had fouled Reo-Coker in the box leaving the referee no option but to point straight to the spot.
Up stepped Ashley Young who calmly slotted his penalty low into the corner, sending Reina the wrong way, to restore the visitors’ two goal lead.
Back Liverpool came again and although they had chances a resilient Villa held firm for a much-needed victory that will do much to answer their doubters whilst handing the Reds a few of their own.
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